Today is our last new student orientation of the summer for students entering our Edge program this fall. I always have mixed emotions about these events. On the one hand, I dread them as they are so much work – sessions to coordinate, staffing to manage, details to organize. However, they are also so fulfilling as these are the days when we get to connect with our students who will be attending college for the first time in the fall. This is our chance to set the tone for them and start them off on the right foot. You just want the day to be perfect for the students and their family members – which is challenging because each family’s needs are different. Every orientation session, I am reminded of my own experience with my children.
Let’s face it, experiences vary for each and every family member. I remember when my own children went off to school. I was spoiled because my oldest child, Kimberly, took classes at our local community college and commuted from home. When my second child, Austin, started college, he went to a local state school that was 2.5 hours away from home. To be honest, we were all excited for him to go away to college – I’m not sure we would have all survived had he decided to stay home. Anyhow, on the big day, my husband and I drove Austin up to school. We got him all moved in and had to bribe him to have lunch with us. I bawled all the way home as my husband shook his head and reminded me that he would be home to visit soon. We pulled into the driveway and walked into the house to find that my twin daughters had completely moved him out of his room and one of them had moved in. There were no signs of him to be found anywhere in the house. When I explained that he would be coming home at some point, they told me he could sleep on the couch. Nothing like the love between siblings.
Three years later, the girls decided to attend the university where I work. They thought they would commute from home. Joe and I told them they were going to live on campus their first year. They were not happy. The big day came and we moved them in, took them for pizza, and headed home. Big surprise, I bawled all the way home as my Joe told me over and over that I would see them the next day. There was just something about having all of my babies be grown and on their own that was devastating. By the end of the second week of classes, we were loving the empty nest life! Joe was developing plans for Katie’s room and Jessica’s room was going to become my craft room. Sadly, the following spring when we were ready to start our bedroom makeovers, the girls announced that they were going to move back home and save money by commuting. They’re doing great in school and have now decided to double major. They keep reminding me “you’ll be sad when we’re gone”, and they are right. But I sure would like a craft room!
….back to orientation
Going off to college is a great new adventure for our children. It is a time for them to grow into adulthood, be exposed to people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs, and it’s a time for them to learn, explore, and discover their passions. As such, it’s important that we allow our children to spread their wings to develop their own ideas and beliefs so that they, in turn, can become well rounded citizens. When our children go off to college, we must show them our support, while limiting our demands on their time and resources. They need to have the opportunity to experience successes and failures. Lastly, when our children fly the coop, they aren’t the only one’s to grow. As parents, we too enter a new chapter in our lives. Although it can be bittersweet, we can find peace knowing that we have succeeded in providing a solid foundation for our loved one’s so that they can start to author their own life stories.